How to save money. Tips from a shopaholic.

I have to admit that I am kind of a shopaholic. That doesn’t mean that I’m in debt because of it though. Far from it. I’m definitely not rich and I don’t live the life of luxury, I simply am pretty dang good at saving money and following a few simple rules, which I wanted to share with you today!

My number one tip for saving money is to stop paying retail. Yep, I said it. Shop sales and discounts. Shop online.

Shopping online is probably one of the best ways to save money. Online stores constantly offer incentives to purchase in the form of deals and coupons. You can Google “(store name) coupon” to find discount codes to pretty much every online shop. My favourite coupon finding site is Retail Me Not. You just type in the store URL and *boom*, coupons! Another socially responsible alternative coupon site called Save1 provides a healthy meal to a malnourished child each time you shop through their site. This just doesn’t happen with brick & mortar stores, where you wait months for a sale of 20% off or more to pop up… and how often have you had an actual coupon to shop in-store?!  A lot of online stores also offer free shipping codes, or free shipping on orders of “X” amount of dollars.  You also save on some taxes if the online store is not located in your state/province, and ALL taxes if the store is not located in your own country!  Online stores also offer a greater selection of items! You can sign up to your fave store’s mailing list to be notified of sales… believe me, they happen often! Pretty much 70% of everything in my home has been a result of online shopping. I haven’t set foot inside a retail clothing store with intentions to shop for about 5 years, unless I absolutely needed to do some last-minute gift shopping… and I have saved SO much!

Tip #2: Shop private sale sites. Private sale sites, or “popup” sale sites, are my secret weapon. They are sites that host amazing sales of up to 90% off retail clothing, home decor, kids stuff, and even travel, for a limited number of days.  They’re completely free to join too!  My absolute favourite member’s only sale site is Hautelook. I’ve been a member of the site pretty much since they launched, and have saved SO much money. I’m talking $200 jackets for $30. Or $800 pieces of furniture for $150. There is only one catch: you have to be quick to grab things!  Here is a sample screenshot from yesterday’s Hautelook sale:

Check out those prices! If you’re not shopping these types of stores, you’re missing out on huge savings. Here are some others that I shop at as well: Gilt, Beyond The Rack, and Rue La La.

Tip #3: Lower your bills. This is a lot easier than you think. Reevaluating your bills can save you tons of money in the long run. I find cell phone bills to be the biggest culprit here (at least in Canada!).  I’ve had friends who were paying $200 a month for their cell phone bills and thought it was normal. That is insane, it is definitely not normal! Take a look at your plan and see what you can condense. Go on your service provider’s website and check out their latest plan prices (they do change you know!).  I was paying $80 a month for a while for a phone that doesn’t even work in my area. After a couple phone calls, reorganizing and removing my data plan, I’m down to $25 a month. I work from home and use WIFI constantly, there was absolutely no need for a data plan, so why pay for it? I helped my mom save $100 a month on her cable bill just by condensing her services a bit. Also, always check out your service provider’s latest promos!  You can call them up and simply ask them how you can lower your bill! Tell them what you want to pay and see what they can do for you. If you find an equal service for less money at a different provider, don’t be afraid to switch!

Tip #4:  Stop putting everything on credit cards.  This tip is already pretty much known, but it is seriously so important. Only use your credit card if you have the cash in your bank account to cover it… unless it’s an emergency of course. I have three credit cards but I only use one of them, and it’s mostly used for online purchases because you need a credit card to buy.  I never buy anything with my credit card that I can’t pay back almost immediately. Interest is a money saving killer. If you bought a handbag for $300 six months ago and just let it sit there, you’ve instantly paid more than you should have for that handbag just because of interest. Technically, you don’t own any items on your credit card, the bank does. So own up to your purchases and pay for them! Also it’s great to always pay more than your minimum payment. I always try to do multiple larger payments throughout the month to pay it off, so I might make three credit card payments per month instead of just one. You don’t’ have to wait for that bill to come in you know!

Before I decide to go on a shopping spree for new clothing, I always do one thing first. I go through all of the clothes I no longer wear and see if I can either make them work or sell them on Ebay or my Closet Sale site. It’s like recycling almost!  The money I make from selling off old clothes goes straight back into funding a new wardrobe, so I hardly end up paying anything for new stuff!

Tip #5: Restyle or make something. I’m kind of guilty of always wanting new things… clothing, furniture…. but I’m not a fan of the prices. I spent months looking for a large enough coffee table for our living room and couldn’t find anything under $500. I got crafty and created the DIY Rustic Pallet Coffee Table from this post… and it was FREE!

Before you splurge on something you might not be able to afford, see if you can find a DIY alternative! You might be surprised!

Tip #6: Get knowledgeable about your purchases. The trick to shopping is to do some price comparisons. Whenever I shop online, I always look for the site that has the best deal on the product. You can do the same thing in store too!  Research what you’re looking for a little bit and you’ll become a pro at this. Learning about your purchases and knowing how much they’re supposed to cost (or what is a good deal and what isn’t) is super helpful! 

So there you have it. Six money-saving tips that work for me like a charm!  How do you save money??

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By Dana Fox

Founder of the Wonder Forest blog and brand and bestselling author of the Watercolor With Me book series.

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